Former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan believes Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe's role could be limited this season following the arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City. The Englishman could return to action against Leicester City next weekend after missing his team's 2-0 Premier League win against Crystal Palace on Friday.
It goes without saying the Gunners have had a very promising summer, investing heavily in their squad. They signed the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira, among others. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has strengthened his squad significantly to compete with the Premier League big boys - Liverpool and Manchester City.
“This is what having a big squad is all about,” the former Leeds United striker told Football Insider. “Arteta’s never hidden his desire to spend and have a bigger squad. He’s gone and got Zinchenko as well, so that’s another player who has possibly come in ahead of Smith Rowe. This is what Arsenal have to do in order to compete with Liverpool and Man City – and that’s the unfortunate reality for Smith Rowe. It’s healthy competition."
The arrival of Zinchenko means Smith Rowe has serious competition for his spot, as the former Manchester City man also thrives on the left side of midfield. Noel Whelan expects the Ukrainian to be the main option for the Gunners in that role, which would relegate Smith Rowe to cup games.
“Smith Rowe might find himself playing in cup or European matches, but he’s got to take those opportunities. If he does well, he can become an option. He came off the bench last season and made an impact. It may have to be the same this season."
Emile Smith Rowe's numbers for Arsenal last season
Emil Smith Rowe had a decent outing with the Gunners in the Premier League last season, contributing ten goals and two assists in 33 appearances. He also scored once in four EFL Cup games during the campaign.
With the arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko, though, the Englishman will need to be on top of his game to become a regular fixture in the Gunners' playing XI. It remains to be seen how he fares to stay ahead of the Manchester City star in the pecking order.